Vietnam News

Workers’ strikes increase as businesses seek to delay wage hike

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Wildcat strikes by workers increased by 40 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, according to the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor.

At a conference Tuesday on wages and the job market, Le Dinh Quang, deputy head of the confederation’s legal policy department, said the number of such strikes had been declining since 2018, but suddenly increased in the first quarter of this year.

Of the 64 strikes during the quarter, the textile industry account for around 40 percent, leather for 15 percent, electronics for 10 percent and wood processing for 7 percent, he said.

All were wildcat strikes initiated by the workers and not organized by unions.

They were mainly related to workers’ welfare, with most caused by delayed wage payments and poor food, and none resulted in vandalism, he said.

The government’s delay in adjusting minimum wages and the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic reduced incomes even as the cost of living rose, draining workers’ savings.

Quang said that at the time of the conference 1,500 workers at a leather and shoe factory in Nam Dinh were on strike, asking their Taiwanese employer for a raise.

The strike began on April 22, and 400 workers have resigned after their demands were not met.

“Many businesses have increased wages and benefits for workers, but some are still waiting for the minimum wage adjustment as a basis for negotiations.

“The government’s adjustment of the minimum wage is necessary in this context.”

Multiple solutions are needed, but the minimum wage raise needs to happen by July 1, not in 2023, he said.

Inadequate compensation

Vu Minh Tien, head of the Institute of Workers and Trade Union, said while factory workers make up only 15 percent of the population, they account for 65 percent of the GDP.

But despite this, they are not adequately compensated considering how many still have issues regarding wages, housing and child-rearing costs, he said.

A trade union survey in March found workers getting paid only VND4.92 million ($214.14) a month without overtime.

To avoid poverty, many had to work overtime and multiple shifts, with those in certain industries like textile, electronics and food processing working up to 70 hours extra a month.

Tien said: “Maybe it is because they work but get a meager salary that 72 percent of workers do not want their children to have the same career.

“Surveys from 2007 also show a similar percentage of workers with the same opinion.”

The National Wage Council on April 12 approved a 6 percent increase in minimum wages from July 1.

The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry has agreed with the 6 percent increase but wants it to take effect on January 1 next year so that businesses would have “more time to prepare.”

On April 14 several industry business groups urged the government to delay the hike in minimum wages to 2023. – April 26, 2022 

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